From research to action

Hawk Ridge Elementary students in Alexandra Brooks’ fifth-grade class turned a research project into action.

Each student explored needs in Charlotte and presented their findings in class. It spurred discussion on homelessness and ways to get involved. The students took the assignment a step further. They voted to tackle the issue by donating winter supplies to an organization. They came across the Urban Ministry Center and chose it as the recipient.

“We realized how much we have to make us comfortable and noticed that the homeless don’t have all of these things,” said student Jackson Fricke. “We wanted to do something to change this.”

To make their plan a reality, they formed action teams that included teams for supplies, purchasing, fundraising, destination, organization/delivery and cost.

“They amazed me! I did not realize that this project would take off the way it did,” said Brooks. “They would work in their teams and then we would come together to discuss as a class and make decisions. The action team planned the ins and outs of selling items from stands. They decided on needed supplies, responsibilities and time. Then, they made it happen.”

Students sold hot cocoa, used books and cookies from six different stands in different neighborhoods to raise the money to purchase adult gloves, winter hats, rain ponchos, aerosol deodorant, underwear, sleeping bags, toothbrushes, travel-size toothpaste and soap.

“We all knew the classic way for children to make money is a lemonade stand but it’s winter,” said student Pablo Bermudez. “We decided to sell hot cocoa.” 

Brooks said Hawk Ridge focuses greatly on building community. Time is set aside every morning for meetings. This time helps students build relationships and discuss what is happening in their lives and the world around them. They learn to support one another and have empathy for each other. They focus on the classroom community as well as the communities that surround them.

“Our school encourages students to be independent thinkers and explorers through personalized learning,” said Brooks. “This was an opportunity to put the skills they have learned throughout the years — like goal setting, team building and reflection — to work in the real world.” 

Brooks will take the supplies to the Urban Ministry Center before the winter break.


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